Of God and
Human Beings

Psalm 90.12- 17

Good News Translation (GNT)

 A prayer by Moses, the man of God"

12  Teach us how short our life is,
   so that we may become wise.
13  How much longer will your anger last?
   Have pity, O Lord, on your servants!
14  Fill us each morning with your constant love,
   so that we may sing and be glad all our life.
15  Give us now as much happiness
   as the sadness you gave us
   during all our years of misery.
16  Let us, your servants, see your mighty deeds;
   let our descendants see your glorious might.
17  Lord our God, may your blessings be with us.
   Give us success in all we do!

Taken from the 'word-on-the-web'
 supplied by Scripture Union

Of God and Human Beings

Psalm 90.12- 17

What age are you?
How many years can you look back upon?

The answer to these questions will probably affect the way
this psalm speaks to you.
It is the prayer of an older man reflecting on the years he has lived.
This man prays to gain the benefit of his years of life-experience (v 12).

He doesn't want any of the hard times in his life to be wasted,
because through these hard moments wisdom can be found -
a wisdom that goes to the heart, not just the head.

The last part of the poem might be read as the promise of heaven,
but I think there is a gritty immediacy about this prayer,
which asks that what we have done in our lives will
really count for something (v 17).

For younger people this psalm will read very differently.
But for those of us with more years to look back upon,
these words will make us nod and say 'Amen',
not without pain or even regret,
but with deep thanksgiving to God.

Let us remember that our life in this world is not eternal,
despite modern medical advances, and that God still hates sin.

Taking stock of our lives before God involves prayer for teaching,
for mercy, for hope and for gladness (vs 12-15).
Then, in verses 16 and 17 we see there is something even bigger
than God's wrath: - his grace:

'The grace that meets the demands for justice and righteousness
and can therefore bless sinners in spite of their sin.

Fulfilment would need to wait for the New Testament,
but it is glimpsed here - just as the psalmist's prayer that
his work would prosper finds an echo in Paul's words,
'you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain'
(1 Corinthians 15:58).

However frank the psalm may be regarding human mortality,
notice that it does not have either the first or the last word.
It is bookended by a confident assertion about God in verses 1 and 2
and the prayer for his intervention at the end.

When we are most conscious of the reality of our short and
troubled lives, we need to look to the eternity of our
Creator God and trust in his mercy and grace.
One day we will come home!

Other versions are available here

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